Mauricio’s work and an ex-Man City coach’s idea
13 April 2018|Tottenham Hotspur
Manager of Atletico Nacional at the time, Osorio immediately saw the 17-year-old’s potential and moved quickly to secure his services, at the same time helping him make the switch to centre-half.
Fast forward to the present day and following impressive spells with Nacional and Dutch side Ajax, a 21-year-old Davinson is thriving under the tutelage of ex-Argentina centre-back Mauricio Pochettino in the Premier League here at Spurs and looking forward to a massive test against table-toppers Manchester City at Wembley on Saturday night.
As Luis Fernando Restrepo, UK correspondent for South American broadcaster DirecTV Sports, explains, Osorio and now Mauricio have been key figures in preparing the athletic young defender for battle on the big stage.
“Davinson played for Nacional, my home town team in Medellin, and as soon as I saw him, I thought ‘this guy is special’ because he’s strong, he knows how to move on the pitch and he’s really, really quick,” Luis told us this week.
“He started his career in the local academy like a midfielder and it was Juan Carlos Osorio, who was the second assistant of Kevin Keegan when he was the manager of Manchester City (2001-05), who discovered him a few years ago when he was in charge of Atletico Nacional. He moved him from a midfielder to a central defender and it means that he knows how to play with the ball. That’s what makes him even more special.
“For me, he is the Colombian who has adapted better to the Premier League – even better than Faustino Asprilla (Newcastle) or Juan Pablo Angel who played at Aston Villa or even Radamel Falcao or Juan Cuadrado because he arrived and immediately he adapted to the league. The other ones needed some time to develop their skills here but Davinson came, immediately he started to play and he looked like he had been playing in the team forever.
“I think he’s adapted really well to the speed, the aerial balls, cutting and running and tackles too. Once I spoke to Mauricio and he said that Davinson is really brave. Mauricio knows how a central defender needs to play and he will continue to help him progress.
“Davinson has developed a lot and, for me, he has the potential to be one of the best central defenders in the world.”
Above: Juan Carlos Osorio.
Since making his debut for us as a late substitute against Burnley in August, Davinson has only missed four Premier League games. On the bench at Manchester United in October, he served a three-game ban, which included the City clash at the Etihad, in December following his red card at Watford, but was the only player to start all eight games for us in the Champions League this season.
“It’s fantastic what he’s been doing, his performances have been fantastic but he’s still young and we need to be happy but also to understand that he needs to improve, he needs to learn,” said manager Mauricio.
“Of course, our expectation when we signed Davinson was (that he was) a player with enormous potential who could show that he can help the team. His adaptation to the team and the Premier League was much better than we expected. He’s humble and that is a massive point for every single player to learn and adapt into a new environment.
“He’s young but always trying to improve and learn. We had a lot of information about his character but he surprised us much better than we expected because he’s always available to learn and improve. He accepts criticism, he accepts the corrections and to me, that is most important. He’s fast, aggressive, plays very well with the ball and at 21, he’s showing great maturity. But, he needs to keep his feet on the grass because he’s still so young and it’s easy to go backwards if you don’t manage in your head all this praise.”
Above: Davinson with Mauricio at Hotspur Way.
Mauricio is undoubtedly an ideal manager to guide the Colombian international’s development – something that Davinson himself underlined: “It’s really important to have the confidence shown in you by the manager,” he explained. "Mauricio's a fantastic manager."
“He’s always happy to give me advice, I try to listen as best as I can and put that advice into practice. If there’s something I’ve not quite done and I can improve on, he’s always there to give advice on ways in which I can improve – he’s always very clear.